I booked tickets to see ‘A Monster Calls’ at The Old Vic as my friend and very talented actor Hammed Animashaun was part of the cast. If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t familiar with the film so went in with zero idea of what to expect, apart from knowing that if Hammed was in it, it was going to be good.
I have never seen an entire theatre so utterly moved – and for so many, in full on tears and sobbing – myself included. At first I thought I was the only one crying so tried very hard to contain my tears, but then I realised the girl sat next to me was wiping her eyes, a guy in front of me was crying, and I could hear quiet and loud sobs in all directions. As the play ended, after a very much deserved standing ovation, everyone proceeded to sit back down. We were all exhausted. As the lights came up people seemed reluctant to move, unsure what to do with their emotions. Some hugged in the aisles. I heard many a friend or partner ask ‘Are you ok?’ and many respond, ‘I just miss her. I wasn’t expecting this.’
If you are unfamiliar with the plot you might not want to read below…. Or you might want to – if only to be a little more prepared than I was.
What I found fascinating was the amount of children seated around us – for it was originally written as a children’s book, then turned in to a film, and now for the stage. And it meant that the experience was so varied for the entire audience. With themes of adolescence, bullying, single parenthood, family, cancer, magic and grief (yes that’s quite the story), I really have never experienced anything like this at the theatre.
I always expect to be moved in some way at the theatre, but this beautiful piece of art left me so emotionally drained. After I had run out of the tissues that I luckily had on me, my only option was to turn my shirt sleeve in to a handkerchief. I came out of the theatre with the worst headache (holding back tears can do that to the body), a soggy shirt, and just the feeling of pure brokenness. On the way home I genuinely thought I was going to throw up. As someone who has lost a parent, and at a young age (I was 19 but still very much a child), nothing in the theatre has ever hit me so hard. I’m a crier – but this was on another level. And whilst my Dad did not have cancer, the way the scenes played out were just too much for me and far too close to home – in exactly the way theatre is intended to be.
Perhaps the day itself was already set to be an emotional one for me. I had spent the morning trying on wedding dresses for the first time ever, with my Mum in attendance. Of course my Dad was in the back of my mind during the build up to it all – and perhaps I’d buried the emotion of it all deeply that morning so I could have my stylist and wedding brain on for the appointment rather than getting overly emotional. So if there was ever a way for me to be reminded of my Dad and his passing over the course of 2 hours and 20 minutes – this was it – no holding back.
There are so many reviews of the play online – but I wanted to share my experience of it. I’ve told my brother to go and see it, he’ll be a mess I’m certain. I urge everyone to go and see it whilst you can. If you have lost a parent or someone who was like a parent to you, pack tissues, don’t wear a lot of make up because it wont be there after the play, and be prepared to deal with a very heightened state of emotions. If you haven’t lost a parent, go and watch this simply for it’s performance art and intriguing narrative. It is as beautiful as it is painful.
Book tickets here.
This is not a sponsored post.
All images courtesy of The Old Vic.